Taking Mesopotamia (Oxford Poets/ Carcanet, March 2014)
Taking Mesopotamia started with research into my father’s experience as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, the South Wales Borderers in Mesopotamia-Iraq in WW1 and shows how the 2003 US/ UK invasion of Iraq grew out of British interests in Mesopotamia in WW1. The collection expresses the horror and despair ordinary people feel about war, seen especially from a woman’s point of view (as a mother and a daughter) and is underpinned by poems inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh which use the narrative of hubris to structure the book. The book is illustrated with photographs taken in Mesopotamia by my father, 2nd Lt. T.C. Lewis. Arabic translations of 11 of the poems, co-translated and edited by Adnan al-Sayegh, are included in the book.
“Jenny Lewis’ Taking Mesopotamia is a brilliantly conceived and executed, very moving book…This is a modernist route – we will see more poetry collections built on these lines.” Dilys Wood, Artemis
“A complex, humane, painful, intelligent book that works on many levels at once…it feels as though Lewis is doing with time what the earliest cubist paintings did with space, folding multiple perspectives and chronologies… The overall effect is less a comparison between different time periods than a sense of multiple timescales coexisting at once…” Gareth Prior, Folding Time
“Jenny’s own poems…sit and shine in their woven clasp of photographs and written forms…[Taking Mesopotamia] brings into focus both the cluster of men stepping out of their uniforms by the Tigris in 1916 and the dilemmas of our continuing military deployments. For all our sophistication and sophistry, we are, essentially, naked by the flowing waters.” Tony Curtis, Poetry Wales
“[Taking Mesopotamia] is a lyrical collection of poetry, witness statements, interviews, diary entries and reports that have been meticulously researched…Lewis will take many on the search with her, such is the overwhelming poignancy of the work, which is testimony that there is a place for poetry in politics.” Jane Fraser, New Welsh Review
“Through this multi-layered narrative [Lewis] entwines her father’s experience in the Mesopotamian campaign of World War 1, the recent wars in Iraq and the Epic of Gilgamesh to reflect on the futility of war, and the moral bankruptcy of Empire… The potency of this collection lies in its combined effects. Starting from a very personal “recovery” of her father, Lewis demands our engagement with loss, love, and the power of myth.” Jane Baston, DURA
To order a copy of Taking Mesopotamia from the publisher